Travel throughout Europe is beginning to show signs of life again. Restrictions in many countries are being lifted and businesses are once again gearing up to welcome vacationers and tourists.
With Summer 2021 just around the corner, we wanted to showcase some of the top European destinations near the coast for travellers to cool off this year.
Our list includes both mainland and island destinations and, best of all, these spots are budget-friendly so you can truly enjoy your holiday without putting a massive dent in your wallet. Let’s dive in!
On The Mainland
Algarve is a coastal region in the south of Portugal well known for its stunning Atlantic beaches. Consisting of popular cities along the Atlantic ocean such as Lagos, Portimão and Faro, this region is one of the most visited in Portugal, but that doesn’t mean it’s expensive.
Algarve was recently voted one of Europe’s cheapest destinations making it an ideal destination for even the most cost-conscious traveller.
Aside from the gorgeous beaches peppered all along this coastal region, you’ll also find picturesque towns, flower-clad hills, historic sites, Roman ruins, excellent golf courses, and a plethora of hiking trails for all fitness levels. With so much to explore and do in Algarve, it’s no wonder it sits at the top of our list.
Set alongside the scenic Adriatic Sea, Croatia is home to some of the clearest waters and pristine beaches in Europe. Dubrovnik is no exception with a variety of options, including secluded getaways, half-moon bays, and even a few with beachfront cafes, restaurants and clubs. Banje Beach is one of the most popular due to its amazing view of the cityscape from sea level.
Dubrovnik is well known as Kings Landing from the widely popular HBO series, Game of Thrones. With its iconic walled downtown, entering the city feels like being transported back to the middle ages.
The city has done well to keep its historical charm and preserve a castle-like ambience. Although it’s quite a popular destination for holiday travellers, it remains very affordable. Lastly, don’t miss the cable car to the top of the nearby hill for one of the best panoramic views of the city.
A hidden gem along the Black Sea, Sozopol has a lot to offer to visitors. If you’re looking for excellent seafood, cheap beers or cocktails, and picturesque coastal scenery, then you’ve come to the right place. Bulgaria is known for its friendly hospitality, so you’ll feel welcomed right from the start in this quaint southern town.
Sozopol is Bulgaria’s oldest city along the Black Sea, dating back to the Bronze age, and you’ll get the feeling you’ve gone back in time walking down the narrow cobblestone streets lined by wooden houses.
Head to Central Beach for a refreshing dip in the sea and tons of nearby affordable restaurants to choose from. With so many charming places to explore, you’ll be sure to have a great vacation that won’t put a dent in your wallet.
Lisbon has an impressive blend of history, great cuisine, amazing beaches and affordable prices. This coastal capital city offers visitors tons of variety in both sites to see and things to do.
For the history lover, a visit to the seafront Torre de Belém tower is a must. The tower has a mixture of Moorish, Goth and Romanesque architecture, and has stood tall since the 16th century.
A walk through the winding streets of the Alfama district, Lisbon’s oldest living quarters, puts you right along the coast with long sandy beaches and some of the best cafes to grab a famous Pastel de Nata pastry.
James Bond enthusiasts can take a short trip to Casino Estoril, the inspiration for Ian Flemming’s novel and later James Bond movie, Casino Royale, to enjoy Europe’s largest casino where you can take in art exhibitions, live shows, eat at renowned restaurants, or try your favorite roulette strategy out on the casino floor. Lisbon is definitely worthy of a visit on your trip to Portugal.
San Sebastian, Spain
This popular coastal destination in Spain’s Basque region is known for its 3 amazing beaches: the stunning Ondarreta Beach, the thundering waves of the Zurriola Beach, and the famous Concha Beach, each offering a different experience. Ondarreta has a bit of everything from watersports, surfing breaks, cafes, restaurants, and resorts along its 600m coast.
Zurriola is a distinguished surfer spot where locals and tourists share the waves, which can reach a comfortable 4-6 feet in the winter months. Concha Beach, named after its arching golden sands which resemble a Concha shell, is the most popular and the most beautiful.
It can get quite crowded in the summer months, but luckily even that doesn’t raise the expenses of your trip too much.
Make sure to visit Monte Igueldo, which offers an amazing panorama of San Sebastián’s bay. The antique funicular to the top is an experience in itself and there’s even a small amusement park for families to enjoy.
History buffs can visit the Museo de San Telmo with the largest collection of Basque artefacts from ancient times to modernity in the world. Some of the best Spanish cuisines are said to come from this region, and San Sebastian is full of amazing restaurants that are well within anyone’s budget.
On The Islands
The Azores, Portugal
This archipelago of 9 islands, each with unique natural scenery, has a lot to offer tourists so spending an entire vacation here is very easy to do. It’s one of the world’s best whale-watching spots as well as a diver’s dream with its clear blue water and abundance of corals and sea life.
Beaches galore as well, with some of the most pristine black sand beaches flanked by lush cliffs stretching as far as the eye can see.
For a unique experience, visit the Islet of Vila Franca do Campo, located off the central southern coast of São Miguel, and enjoy a partially submerged volcanic crater that has turned into one large swimming hole in the middle of the Atlantic.
The region also boasts amazing gastronomy, known for using local high-quality organic products. Eating healthy while exploring the beauty of these islands and embracing the relaxed vibe of island life has helped make The Azores one of the top destinations for tourists.
Its pleasant climate year-round combined with a highly affordable price tag has landed it a very deserved spot as the best island to visit on our list.
The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife has a bit of everything for tourists, vacationers, and locals alike. It too has a relatively mild climate all year round, making this a great destination for any season.
Black and white sand beaches can be found in every corner of the island and, whether you like calm waters or want to play in the surf, crowded beaches or secluded ones, there is something for everyone.
Las Teresitas is a popular man-made palm-lined beach 10 minutes north-east of the capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife and offers many excellent fish restaurants frequented by locals – which is always a good sign.
One of the scenic landscapes along the coast can be found at Playa Tejita, which looks across the sea at Montaña Roja, or the Red Mountain. The half-moon shaped sandy beach is Instagram famous but an even better view is offered atop the mountain which is a relatively easy trek with well-marked hiking trails.
All of this, with budget-friendly accommodation just about anywhere you look makes Tenerife an excellent island choice for your next vacation.